Tonight, our oldest daughter, Julie and I talked by phone. We were catching up on details of her upcoming trip and the logistics for transporting her boys from her house to our house. This weekend, Julie and her husband, Scott and their youngest child, Ella, are about to embark on a very important trip — a trip that will forever change their lives. They are off to Texas to meet the newest member of their family (and ours), a toddler named Paris. Julie, by nature is typically effervescent, but tonight her level of excitement, mixed with anticipation and some anxiety were at fever pitch. I am trying with little success to find the words to describe how I feel about this beautiful young woman. We have been together since she was ten and I was 34. Now, 26 years later, I marvel at the journey that Julie and I have taken — from love at first sight, to loving in ordinary ways, to teen angst and wicked stepmother stories, to hopeful reconciliation and eventually to love, joy and pride.
Julie and Scott married young; Mark was born when Julie was 20. I wondered and worried whether these two young people could cope with the challenges ahead of them. Neither of their parents were successful in their first marriages; it seemed the odds were stacked against them. And, even though most of us didn’t speak our concerns out loud to one another, I knew it was on all of our minds.
Never underestimate the grace of God. Almost seventeen years later Julie’s and Scott’s union is one most would envy. Over the years they’ve raised three beautiful children, they’ve scrimped and saved, they’ve gone to school nights to get their respective degrees, and they’ve moved from a small apartment to house one (a foreclosure model) to house two to the beautiful home they now have. Every home project is a work of love that continues to make their house a home. They beam with pride when you visit and are eager for you to see the fruits of their labor.
We all know, though, that their greatest labors of love are their three extraordinary children, Mark, 16, Cameron, 12 and Ella, almost 8. I am in love with these kids – they are true points of light in my life. I never imagined that the birth of her children, most notably Mark, would forge the strong bond she and I share. May I just say that Julie is a “mom’s mom.” She loves her kids more than life itself. She is the oldest of many siblings, and is aunt to lots of little kids and they all love her madly. She gives love and attention to each child when she sits in quiet conversation with each of them as if they were the only person in the room, when she reads them a story or plays kitchen with them. She has time for all of them (and in our house that’s about 6 little people when we are all together).
I pray that God continues to shine His grace on this Mary-child of mine, and her husband and children. Paris will be nurtured and loved in a way that will help her face the physical and emotional challenges that lie ahead for her and for them. I am in awe of the gift I have been given, and I need to remember to thank God for this. I need to remember that Julie will need me when Paris is sick, when she needs love and support, or when Mark, Cam or Ella need some extra Moma time. I need to remember all of this because Julie is there when we need her. Love you, Jewels.